I enjoyed the 2007 Transformers movie.
It was by far not the best movie of that year, but compared to some of the other dreck that I witnessed that year (I can attest to have seen both Epic Movie and Alien vs Predator 2: Requiem in theaters), but it was at least somewhat entertaining. I know I'm going to attract a lot of hate for that, but I don't care.
Fast forward two years.
It's the week of the release of the hotly anticipated sequel, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Reviews are hitting the internet, and the word is getting out that the movie is nothing short of terrible. In fact, one particular review stood out to me - Roger Eberts one star review of the movie. You can best sum his review up with this opening paragraph.
"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" is a horrible experience of unbearable length, briefly punctuated by three or four amusing moments. One of these involves a dog-like robot humping the leg of the heroine. Such are the meager joys. If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start banging pots and pans together. Then close your eyes and use your imagination.
Wow. After having read that, I knew that I needed to catch this movie. So now that we're up to speed, let's actually TALK about the movie.
...Yeah. It's not good.
I knew going in that this was going to be more of the same, and have nothing really redeemable. Yes, it's a Michael Bay movie, so there's going to be an overemphasis on action and EXPLOSIONS!~ Yes, it's a summer blockbuster, so I shouldn't expect a deep and moving story, but replaced that with lots of shots of Megan Fox in poses and giant robots fighting giant robots. Oh, and EXPLOSIONS!~
But yes, this movie does have so major flaws. At least, the ones that I had with it. So let's go into those. This'll go into some spoiler territory, so if you're wary about what happens in the movie - stop reading now. I'll try to not bring up anything too major and what not, but bare with me for the moment.
Let's start off with the biggest problem. The length. In regular theatrical cuts, the movie is 150 minutes long. IMAX screenings have been reported as longer, but I can't comment on how long exactly. I haven't a problem with long movies, but I'll be damned that Michael Bay didn't at least consider maybe cutting down on the movie somewhat. Especially towards the end where the movie practically stops to have this giant battle in the desert.
Now, I can understand that Bay was going for this epic movie and what not, but at the same time, when there's as much explosion porn present in this movie, you kinda get sick of it real quick. It's basically like Bay realized that he had little to nothing in the way of plot and thought that the best way to achieve his vision of an epic movie was to pad it out with moronic 'comedic' moments and...well...EXPLOSIONS!~
Speaking of these 'comedic' moments, for some strange reason, the film contains an absurd number of sex/genital related jokes. It's not funny in the slighest. Especially watching dogs basically fucking one another. It's a moment so nice that Bay thought it'd be awesome to show it twice. Oh, and there's an instance of seeing John T.'s ass and package. The audience laughed their arses off at this. Sitting in the front row (thanks to a ticket snafu), that was the last thing I wanted to see. Then there's the "hash cookies" that Shia Lebouf's mother consumes which does not help make her anymore likabke. Even tackling a security guard didn't help that...though since when does pot give you tackling power?
Then there's the fact that characters have a tendency to disappear for a large portion of the plot. Take the titular Fallen for instance. He's hyped up as this big and stupidly powerful villain whom is so unbelievably awesome that even Megatron is sucking up to him. I mean, the subtitle of the movie basically makes us think that the Fallen is this one super bad motherfucker who's going to kick some major arse when he comes to Earth. Then he disappears for close to two hours, and only appears for a brief moment in a flashback, then again five minutes before the end of the movie, and does practically nothing but fucking job to Optimus Prime.
As an Australian, I feel that I have to comment somewhat on the role of former Home and Away starlet Isobel Lucas. Prior to the movie, her role was being hyped up as her big breakthrough role and what not. Even after an extremely awkward interview on popular variety show Rove Live, she was still being hyped based on the cause of "she's an Aussie in a huge blockbuster film", similar to fellow Home & Away castmember Chris Hemsworth in Star Trek or Sam Worthington in Terminator Salvation. She appears for all of five minutes. I shit you not. And after her "big breakout role", she is never heard from or mentioned again. Sure, she's hot and all...but she doesn't really leave much of an impact on viewers (well, at least me), or the plot.
And then there are these two. Say hello to the Twins. Mudflap and Skids
You recall how a large portion of the movie going public absolutely despised Jar Jar Binks upon seeing Star Wars Episode 1? The same fate shall meet them. They contribute absolutely fucking nothing to the plot, and you wish that they get killed in the most violent and brutal way a transforming robot can. In fact, one of them comes close to dying, and SURVIVES. I literally cried out "BULLSHIT" when that happened. Then there's all the cries of racism, but honestly, I was too enraged each time I saw them to not take note.
I know I'm probably reading into this way too much than I should be doing, but really, let's take a look at two of the biggest and best blockbuster tentpole movies from last year: Iron Man and The Dark Knight. Both movies are the complete opposite of RotF - well written, well acted and had reasonable runtimes and uses of explosions. And they were fantastic films. This? Not so much.
Really, the movie would've been better served as a video game. Which it does have, yet reportedly isn't much good. Though weirdly enough, the online mulitplayer components of the 360/PS3 game is meant to be fantastic, and watching the last battle...it's something that would've been better served as an online MP game than an actual movie. For some reason, I got visions of a class based, multiplayer focused first person shooter.
Though honestly, I should give at least some praise in the CG stuff. As you would expect, the CG work is quite impressive, and the fight scenes are much better shot and laid out, unlike the first film - where the fight scenes were difficult to watch and make out precisely what's going on. Granted, there's a bit of that in Revenge of the Fallen, but it's much clearer than before.
Let's close this off. The movie isn't fantastic. It's too long, there's no story, the attempts at humour are stupid overall, it's just a mess. Yet it's going to be one of the highest profiting movies of the year, and more than make it's budget back. Despite this, here's the kicker though.
Once the credits hit, audiences were applauding.
I couldn't be making this up, even if I tried.
A packed audience in Hoyts Melbourne Central for the 6:15pm session on Thursday 25th of June 2009, applauded Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
I sat there stunned.